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Sabores Festival: Taste Something New

By Jesús Aguado

The San Miguel Sabores (Flavors) will feature international chefs who will prepare the best of their recipes for the most diverse audience. It does not matter if the dishes are too fancy, too expensive, or for the most demanding palate. It will be a festival where everyone hungry for “tasting something new” will have room, because all are welcome.

The festival will be held from Friday, June 12, through Sunday, June 14, at Parque Juárez.

The idea of having this festival came from Donny Masterton—owner of  The Restaurant—three years ago after María José Garrido, then director of Tourism Economic Development and International Affairs, decided that the festivals in town must have a theme and ought to be integrated bimonthly. When the bimonthly program of San Miguel Gourmet emerged, Sergio Martell, who was working with Garrido, came to Donny and invited him to prepare something that could be attractive for the May-June program.

Masterton commented that, thanks to his experience with high cuisine and with the connections he had with restaurants and chefs from the United States, Canada, and other countries like Guatemala and England, he decided to start a festival that could offer low-cost gourmet food. He wanted to start a festival where the most diverse public could show up and feel part of it, people who could housekeepers, construction workers, or even entrepreneurs. According to Masterton, the idea was to have a festival where people can get gourmet food that they sometimes could not get at restaurants because it is too fancy or expensive.

That is how Sabores emerged. It is an event where gourmet samples are available for 25 pesos each, as well as samples of cheese, mezcal, ice cream, and wine. Sabores keeps growing since its inauguration in 2013, when just a few believed in the project. Once it began, success came to stay.

What are the features of Sabores?

The program will start on Thursday, June 11, with the Meet and Eat event with the chef. Here the chefs will have food stands and will offer their culinary art to the attendees who will also have access to an open bar. The revenue will go to supporting the Family Orchard program of the nonprofit organization Feed The Hungry. The Family Orchard program consists of supporting and encouraging families to construct orchards in their patios for growing all kind of vegetables so they can have a more balanced diet. Besides, Feed the Hungry promotes the exchange among the families who grow vegetables, because they can share their surpluses with others or even sell them. Meet and Eat with the chef will take place at Casa del Parque from 7-10pm. The tickets cost 650 pesos and are available at Sollano 16.

There are no guidelines for the inauguration on Friday, June 12, at 6pm, but there will be music, food, and beverages until 10pm. On Saturday June 13—as well as on Sunday—the guest chefs coming from Toronto, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Guatemala, and London will be presiding over their stands and presenting their recipes to the general public. They will actually cook and bake there. Organizer Angela Lewis comments that it does not matter if people do not speak English. It will be very easy to understand and practice at the attendee’s kitchen because the presentation will be very visual.

There will be live music the whole time. The rhythms will go from jazz to blues, rock to pop, and flamenco to a very Mexican sound. Some of the bands and DJs that will be performing are Rabeats, Pila Seca, Johnny Favourite, Todos los Santos, Flamenco de Patricia Linares, DJ BeGolden, and McMeow, among others.

Joe Hargrave has headed operations for San Francisco restaurants, such as Restaurant Lulu, Rose Pistola, Azie, and Frisson. In 2007, he happily tossed all his suits to open his first restaurant, Laïola, a casual Spanish concept, which he closed in 2009 to make way for Tacolicious. Tacolicious now has four locations. Joe opened a dumpling-centric restaurant called Chino last May.

Sara Deseran is a longtime San Francisco-based food writer and the co-owner of the restaurants Tacolicious and Chino. Sara works as the editor-at-large for San Francisco magazine and contributes to other publications such as C magazine and Saveur. She is the author of four cookbooks, including the recent Tacolicious cookbook. She also writes her own blog at

Atención San Miguel: What does it mean for you to come to San Miguel de Allende and be part of the festival?

Joe Hargrave and Sara Deseran: As longtime fans of this city, we’re thrilled to not only be a part of the festival, but also to work with our talented friend and chef Donnie Masterton to open the Tacolicious Taco Lab in San Miguel de Allende this fall. At the Taco Lab, Donnie will be tinkering with Mexican recipes for us to use in our state-side restaurants.

ASM: What type of food do you prepare in your restaurant?

J&S: Tacolicious is a rollicking taco-driven restaurant with a menu that includes relatively traditional tacos, of course—particularly guisados—but it also has a full cocktail program and dishes including everything from a chopped kale salad with nectarines and quinoa to albondigas in a chipotle broth. It’s truly a Mexican restaurant anchored with a strong San Francisco sensibility.

ASM: What will your demo/talk be about?

J&S: We’re getting into the trials and tribulations of writing a cookbook and hoping to squeeze into our 30 minutes a demo of one of our favorite recetas.

ASM: What will you cook for the festival?

J&S: Some of our house braises paired with Donnie’s favorite gorditas maker, our Contramar-style tuna tostada, and a carnitas tostada.

ASM: What contribution do you or could you do for Mexican food?

J&S: We’d say that we honor the tradition of Mexican cuisine based on many travels to Mexico, but we bring it back to California and put it in the context of a city that reveres farm-driven, simple, and bright food.

ASM: Why should people try your food during the festival?

J&S: Because we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel—we’re just making delicious food.

ASM: What food could you eat all the time?

J&S: Tacos! Seriously. This is not a marketing ploy. There’s a reason we opened a restaurant revolving around them. We make them at home, we eat them at our own restaurants, and we search them out.

ASM: What ingredient of Mexican cuisine do you consider to be of universal value?

J&S: Chiles! Because they’re integral to the cuisines we love most, from Mexican to Indian to Chinese to Thai. I could go on. That fragrant heat is something I can’t imagine living without.


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